WASHINGTON – Toy-maker Fisher-Price is recalling 83 types of toys – including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters – because their paint contains excessive amounts of lead.
The recall being announced today involves 967,000 plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor and sold in the United States between May and August. It is the latest in a wave of recalls that has heightened global concern about the safety of Chinese-made products.
The recall is the first for Fisher-Price Inc. and parent company Mattel Inc. involving lead paint. It is the largest for Mattel since 1998 when Fisher-Price had to recall about 10 million Power Wheels.
In an interview on Wednesday, David Allmark, general manager of Fisher-Price, said the problem was detected by an internal probe and reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall is particularly alarming since Mattel, known for its strict quality control, is considered a role model in the toy industry for how it operates in China.
Fisher-Price and the commission issued statements saying parents should keep suspect toys away from children and contact the company.
Allmark said the recall was troubling because Fisher-Price has had a long-standing relationship with the Chinese vendor, which had applied decorative paint to the toys. Allmark said the company would use this recall as an opportunity to put even better systems in place to monitor vendors whose conduct does not meet Mattel’s standards.
“Anytime a company brings a banned hazardous product into the U.S. marketplace, especially one intended for children, it is unacceptable,” said Nancy Nord, acting chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Ensuring that Chinese-made toys are safe for U.S. consumers is one of my highest priorities and is the subject of vital talks currently in place between CPSC and the Chinese government.”